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Travel advice: can I get travel insurance coverage with a major health condition?

If you’re thinking of heading off around the world travel insurance is essential, but what if you have a pre-existing condition, does that mean you can’t get cover even with domestic travel insurance ? Here are travel health expert Bridget Duffy answers this often-asked question…

If you have a serious health condition, especially if you have diagnosed as terminal, then you’re going to have a tough time finding an insurer that will offer you comprehensive travel insurance. You will probably be able to get travel insurance, excluding certain key benefits like emergency evacuation and medical care. It will depend on the type of condition you have, and how far advanced the condition is. Each insurance company will have its own exclusion specifications, but in general, they are all feeling the same way about insuring the terminally ill. It is a risky business to be in – and that’s why travel insurance for the very ill will be expensive if it is offered at all.

Travel insurance for the terminally ill

Insurance companies and their actuaries feel real low when they have to pay out any claim. It hurts them deeply. In their dreams, they never have to pay out a single penny! So, when you (as a terminally ill policyholder) file a claim against your travel insurance policy, their adjusters immediately spring into action trying to find any way out of paying you that they can. They are especially prone to “prove” that your incident was one that was excluded on your policy because of a “pre-existing” health condition. The point is that you need to be mindful when choosing a policy – and make sure you really understand the fine print. What’s the point otherwise?

What constitutes a pre-existing medical condition concerning travel insurance?

Here’s a good definition of what a pre-existing condition is to travel insurance companies: “A pre-existing condition means any injury, sickness or condition for which medical advice, diagnosis, care or treatment was recommended or received within a specified time period ending on your date of departure – typically 90 days or 180 days.” Trust that the insurance companies are going to be scouring through every detail in order to try to avoid paying your claim, if it should ever come to that. That is exactly what the adjusters are paid to do.

When you contact most insurance companies for travel insurance (or any other type), it’s all flowers and beer at first. The receptionists and salespeople are oh-so-kind. And they will continue to treat you like a star, as long as you keep on making those premium payments when they come due – and you don’t file any claims. Now, if and when you ever file a claim, the insurance company will still handle everything on a professional and courteous manner – but behind the scenes, they will be trying to DENY YOUR CLAIM!

That’s why you have to be specific when applying for travel insurance or when you have a terminal or very serious health condition. If you lie to them, or just don’t mention the fact that you are sick, then they would deny any claim you would ever make due to the pre-existing clauses. And that would void your policy, making it completely pointless to have bought it in the first place!


One Comment

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    Pushkar Amar

    17 June, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Great post Becky! It’s true that all insurance companies do scrutinize every claim to understand if it’s within or outside the scope of the policy, but that’s why the policy wording document is made. This post has everything in it to make people aware to read every point carefully rather than believe the word of mouth.


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